Original barn timbers were re-assembled into bents at the job site. Replacement parts were cut and shaped from locally milled lumber as needed, and surfaced with an adze to remove saw-blade marks.
Original barn timbers were re-assembled into bents at the job site. Replacement parts were cut and shaped from locally milled lumber as needed, and surfaced with an adze to remove saw-blade marks.

The materials for this project arrived on the job the usual way — via truck delivery — but that was pretty much where any resemblance to a normal job ended. We’d been hired to reconstruct a 150-year-old dismantled barn on a new site, while replacing and making repairs to some of the parts along the way. Time, weather, and generations of previous owners had not been kind to the structure. The guys who dismantled the frame didn’t help matters much, either: At some point in the process, they’d apparently changed their numbering system. Some parts weren’t labeled at all, consigning us to hours of ransacking the pile for missing timbers. The pegs had not made the journey with the barn, so the three rookies on our crew spent several days making new ones.

But despite such headaches, it was a memorable project, and one that served to remind us of how easy life is for today’s carpenters. We had power tools and pipe staging. We had a crane to raise the reconstructed bents and rafters — not to mention the 10-foot-by-16-foot cupola that the owner decided, at the last minute, to add to the mix. The...

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